January 2, 2018 / 4:21 PM / a year ago

EMERGING MARKETS-LatAm markets kick off 2018 with a rally

    By Bruno Federowski
    SAO PAULO, Jan 2 (Reuters) - Latin American markets started
2018 on Tuesday on a strong footing as solid global economic
growth data drove investors to unwind year-end hedges.
    China's Caixin index of Chinese industry rose to a
four-month high of 51.5 in December, confounding forecasts for a
decline.
    The reading pointed to resilience for the world's largest
consumer of commodities even as Beijing cracks down on
industrial pollution and engineers a cooling property market.

    It also bolstered expectations of global economic strength
for the first month of the year amid strong readings on
manufacturing in the euro zone.
    Currencies from Brazil, Mexico, Chile
, Colombia strengthened between 0.9 percent and
1.7 percent.
    Stock indexes were up throughout the region, with Brazil's
benchmark Bovespa leading gains as traders unwound bets
on a credit downgrade.
    Brazilian policymakers met in December with rating agencies
to stave off a downgrade after lawmakers delayed a key vote on a
plan to streamline the social security system and curb
government spending.
    "The market sought protection from what looked like an
imminent sovereign downgrade, but that did not materialize,"
H.Commcor brokerage trader Cleber Alessie said.
    Metalúrgica Gerdau SA stock was the biggest
gainer on the benchmark index after Commercial Metals Co
agreed to acquire certain U.S. rebar assets owned by the
Brazilian steelmaker.

    Key Latin American stock indexes and currencies at 1720 GMT:
 Stock indexes                               daily %   YTD %
                                              change  change
                                   Latest             
 MSCI Emerging Markets              1175.55     1.56   -0.08
 MSCI LatAm                         2894.09     2.33       0
 Brazil Bovespa                    77653.30     1.64    1.64
 Mexico S&P/BVM IPC                49622.44     0.54    0.54
 Chile IPSA                         5592.51      0.5    0.50
 Chile IGPA                        28111.30     0.47    0.47
 Argentina MerVal                  30475.44     1.36    1.36
 Colombia IGBC                     11421.38    -0.49    0.45
 Venezuela IBC                      1265.15     0.16  -96.01
                                                            
 Currencies                                  daily %   YTD %
                                              change  change
                                                      
                                     Latest           
 Brazil real                         3.2641     1.51   -0.46
 Mexico peso                        19.5250     0.89    6.24
 Chile peso                           607.8     1.13   10.35
 Colombia peso                      2933.84     1.64    2.31
 Argentina peso (interbank)         18.5800     0.38  -14.56
                                                      
 Argentina peso (parallel)            19.15     0.68  -12.17
                                                      
 
 (Reporting by Bruno Federowski in Sao Paulo; Editing by Jeffrey
Benkoe)
  
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